Codependent vs Self-Love Deficit Disorder

What comes up for you when you hear “Codependent”? Is a person a Codependent/Enabler, or does that person have what has been termed more recently “Self-Love Deficient Disorder”? It may make a difference on whether someone feels shame or remorse versus identification of what you need to have self-love and recovery.

Codependency was coined in 1950 by Alcoholics Anonymous and described as the “enablers” who provide too much for the person with substance use. According to a definition of enabling people, “an enabler refers to someone who persistently behaves in enabling ways, justifying or indirectly supporting someone else’s potentially harmful behavior. In other words, enabling directly or indirectly supports someone else’s “unhealthy tendencies.” These behaviors may include alcohol or substance use.

Codependency has also been described as arising from a dysfunctional family and a trauma response. Gabor Mate expressed that childhood trauma comes from a lack of control and certainty in a child’s life. Dr. Karen Horney, a German psychoanalyst, stated that some people define themselves through the dependency or approval of others — “especially women, who are rigorously socialized to do this.” “Codependency” is considered an outdated term that connotes weakness and emotional fragility, far from the truth.

The replacement term, “Self-Love Deficit Disorder,” takes the stigma and misunderstanding out of codependency and focuses on the core shame perpetuating it. How many mothers or wives are seen by the treatment center as “sick, an enabler, or codependent? How can women not feel blamed or shamed for using those terms while, at the same time, attempting to help their loved ones the best that they know how?

Dr. Ross Rosenberg wrote a book called “The Human Magnet Syndrome,” the codependent and narcissist trap. While describing magnetically charged relationships to include a codependent and narcissist, Dr. Rosenberg also explains the roles and the root of the parts. Much has been talked about recently regarding the narcissist and how a person needs to run and create boundaries with the narcissist. I am not taking that direction, as it has been overused. Moreover, Dr. Rosenberg also provided a description replacing the term codependent with “Self-Love Deficit Disorder.” Gaslighting in silence and rage may create the same results for someone with “Self-Love Deficit Disorder.” 

According to Dr. Rosenberg, loving yourself is the antidote for all the terms over the years – codependent, enabler, and now “Self-Love Deficit”-. Deep down, this makes all the sense in the world. If someone does not truly love themselves, they feel they can receive love by giving unconditionally over and over again to the detriment of themselves and the relationship. 

How can we change this in our mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and the community? According to Dr. Rosenberg, Cure Codependency, how can one learn to love oneself, or now let’s call it “Self-Love Deficit Disorder”? Dr. Rosenberg has written ten stages of a treatment process that will provide the cure for any of these terms that you would consider them to be. You can find these ten stages of treatment for “Self-Love Deficit Syndrome” in his book “The Human Magnet Syndrome.”

Can we now change the face of what used to be a codependent person?  Let’s look at old terms and be the change to create healing for the family and the person who has been brought for treatment. Let’s address the family’s “Self-Love Deficit” in a nurturing and healing way, as it is another trauma response.

  1. McLeod S. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Simply Psychology. Published 2007. Updated April 4, 2022. Accessed December 1, 2022.
  2. Maté G. The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, & Healing in a Toxic Culture. 2022; Avery. Accessed December 1, 2022.
  3. Rosenberg, Ross. The Human Magnet Syndrome. Accessed August 14, 2023.

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